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7 Steps to “Scent-Free” Hunting

Todd Amenrud

deer smelling

Whitetails literally “live by their sense of smell.” It plays a role in every part of their survival (finding food, evading danger, locating a mate, etc). Their elongated nose is able to house oodles of nasal receptors – for some perspective; humans have about 5 million, most dogs have approximately 220 million, but members of the deer family have around 300 million receptors! They have two huge olfactory bulbs attached to their brain that represents about 50 times more of their brain devoted to decoding smells than that of a human. 

How could we ever combat this “sophisticated olfactory computer?” Here’s how…

  1. Wash your clothes in a quality hunter’s detergent. Besides our body, we need to be concerned with everything else we’re bringing into the woods, our clothes being one of the most important.
  2. After washing them, dry your clothes outside if possible. Obviously, if it’s late season in many places your wet clothes would freeze solid, so it’s OK to use your dryer. However, if you do, remove all fabric softener bars prior to drying. And before storing or wearing them, it may be wise to let them air-out outside.
  3. To a whitetail…you STINK! Shower in Scent Killer Body Wash & Shampoo and use a hunter’s deodorant. In nearly all regions of the whitetails’ territory “human scent” is the most feared odor they can experience. Reducing these odors is extremely important. Brush your teeth! Yes, most toothpaste has a minty odor, but it’s better than the bad breath of a meat-eating omnivore.
  4. Don’t put your hunting clothes on until you get to your area. In fact, don’t even remove them from their protective container until then. Many hunters put on their hunting boots at home and then stop to fill up with gas, or they wear their camo to the café for breakfast…then they proceed to try and fool a nose more sophisticated than a bloodhound. If you have a long walk to your ambush location, carry your clothes until you get close to the site to avoid sweating in them. Sweating not only causes more odors, but it’s a sure way to become cold.
  5. Treat your boots and clothing with a quality scent elimination spray. Spray your clothing the day before and allow the spray to dry into your clothing and then return your clothes to their container. These sprays prevent a gas - no gas, no smell.
  6. When the hunting season is over for the year, where do you store your treestands and other gear? Hopefully you don’t amass them in your garage. Just think; during the winter when you start your car to warm it up before you take it somewhere, where do you imagine the exhaust fumes are collecting. A whitetail will smell that! Pay attention to store your equipment in a spot where minimal odors will be able to contact them.
  7. Only hunt when the conditions are in your favor, mainly the wind and thermal. So many hunters hunt whenever they have the opportunity with no regard to whether the conditions are in their favor, or not, most often doing more harm than good. Scent elimination sprays work well, but they’re not a cure for a dim-witted hunter.

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